'Dancing With the Stars' nearing a delay: Everything you need to know about Season 32

Here's how ongoing strike actions and other controversies are impacting the start of the new season.

Dancing With the Stars host Alfonso Ribeiro. (ABC)
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The upcoming season of Dancing With the Stars has been facing all kinds of drama — both strike-related and otherwise — and is now looking to postpone the premiere after cast members have begun backing out.

Season 32 of the ratings juggernaut for ABC will be hosted by Alfonso Ribeiro with Julianne Hough serving as co-host, and Bruno Tonioli, Carrie Ann Inaba and Derek Hough sitting in the judges' chairs.

The cast includes supermodel Tyson Beckford; actors Xochitl Gomez, Alyson Hannigan, Mira Sorvino, Matt Walsh, Barry Williams and Jamie Lynn Spears; reality stars Charity Lawson, Mauricio Umansky and Ariana Madix; singers Jason Mraz and Lele Pons; former NFL star Adrian Peterson and social media star Harry Jowsey.

Here’s a look at all the drama and the latest updates surrounding the season that hasn’t even started yet.

Looking to postpone

ABC confirmed with Variety that the network is working on a postponement plan for the DWTS premiere after actor Matt Walsh decided to “pause” his involvement with Season 32. He announced his decision in a statement to Variety:

“I am taking a pause from Dancing With the Stars until an agreement is made with the WGA [Writers Guild of America]. I was excited to join the show and did so under the impression that it was not a WGA show and fell under a different agreement. This morning when I was informed by my union, the WGA, that it is considered struck work I walked out of my rehearsal. I have been and will always stand with my union members of the WGA, SAG and DGA. Beyond our union artists, I am sensitive to the many people impacted by the strike and I hope for a speedy and fair resolution, and to one day work again with all the wonderful people I met at DWTS who tolerated my dancing.”

Among its 500 or so staff members, Dancing With the Stars employs one WGA writer and therefore is covered by the WGA. Other performers are able to work on the show via SAG-AFTRA’s Network Code agreement, which is not part of the ongoing strike.

As strikers recently set up shop outside Dancing With the Stars, Walsh and others like Hannigan and Sorvino were also mentioned on picket signs. So Walsh’s move was most likely the start of what would be similar actions from other cast members.

Not the only show to back down

If DWTS does indeed delay its season, it would be falling in line with a handful of other unscripted shows that have been doing the same in recent weeks.

Bill Maher announced the return of his HBO talk show but later bowed to strike-related pressure to pause production.  (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Bill Maher announced the return of his HBO talk show but later bowed to strike-related pressure to pause production. (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Bill Maher was set to return to his HBO talk show but started facing backlash similar to others that were trying to return like The Drew Barrymore Show, The Talk and The Jennifer Hudson Show. And now all of those have since decided to delay their upcoming seasons.

One show that elected to proceed despite the strikes is Jeopardy!, beginning its 40th season with the workaround of using recycled clues, which are being answered by previous contestants via a Second Chance tournament.

Host Ken Jennings has faced backlash for not going along with his co-host, Mayim Bialik, who is on the picket lines. But his defense is that the late Alex Trebek decided to continue on during the writers’ strike in 2007-2008.

Drama beyond the strikes

Former DWTS pro dancer Cheryl Burke spent 25 seasons on the show before retiring earlier this year. While out promoting an upcoming new podcast, she was vocal about wanting the show to delay things in solidarity with the writers during an interview with Variety.

Burke also reacted to former DWTS pro Sharna Burgess saying she would have walked if assigned Adrian Peterson as a partner, given his past abuse charges. Burke had this to say about it:

“We’ve had a lot of controversial characters on the show. I think I danced with Ray Lewis — that was a bit controversial. When it comes to abuse, I do agree with Sharna. However, you sign up to be a part of the show. And honestly, as a pro dancer, whoever walks in through that door, you don’t turn around and walk out. You’re signing up for this. It’s not like you can request, but if you say certain things that you’re triggered by, you would hope that that wouldn’t happen. But this is showbiz. I respect her, of course. I come from abuse as a little girl. At the end of the day, I don’t promote it. But my job is, I’m an employee. You can’t just turn around and walk out and say I’m sorry. That’s not part of the contract. It’s a fine line.”

And speaking of Burgess, she also made headlines on her podcast recently after seeming to indicate that one of her former partners on the show, actor Jesse Metcalfe, was “really difficult” to work with.

“I wasn’t able to be in the room alone with him after the first couple of weeks because of things that happened. And so that was rocky, and we were eliminated very quickly,” she said.

Metcalfe’s publicist responded to the accusations with a statement to People, calling Burgess’s comments “highly unprofessional” and said the insinuations are just to “promote the first episode of her podcast.”

Dancing With the Stars will air on both ABC and Disney+ when it returns.